UK’s rank in respecting children’s rights seems...
It seems that despite dramatic improvements in survival, nutrition, and education over the past 20 years, “today’s children face an uncertain future”, with every child facing existential threats.
Generally, according to statistics, there are at least: 150M children in child labour, 250K child soldiers in conflicts, 13M orphaned children. 1 in 4 modern slavery victims are children, 732M school-age children are not legally protected from corporal punishment, and 8M girls aged 15-19 have experienced sexual abuse.
Different organizations around the world assess children rights and well-being almost every year.
In 2007, UNICEF published a study looking at the well-being of children and young people in some of the world’s richest countries (21 countries). They looked at things like child poverty, health, education, where children lived and their safety. They also looked at risk factors like violence, smoking, alcohol and drugs that can affect how children live their lives.
Shockingly, the United Kingdom was bottom of the league table. It turned out that children and young people in Britain were among the unhappiest, unhealthiest, poorest and least educated in the developed world in the early years of the new millennium.
In 2017, the UK has been accused of employing “inadequate” provision for children’s rights protection. And it fell dramatically in global rankings for child rights within a year, from 11th to 156th. Serious concerns have been raised about structural discrimination in the UK, including Muslim children facing increased discrimination following recent anti-terrorism measures, and a rise in discrimination against gypsy and refugee children in recent years.
In 2019, the UK has found itself at the bottom of a global index which monitors the enforcement, protection and promotion of children’s rights. Dutch international children’s rights organization KidsRights placed the UK 170th out of 181 countries in its 2019 index. A report published at the same time as the index criticised the UK’s approach to children’s rights, noting systematic discrimination against child refugees and a lack of legal protection for children experiencing poverty.
The KidsRights Index is the first and only global ranking that annually measures how children’s rights are respected worldwide and to what extent countries are committed to improving the rights of children. The Index methodology is such that extremely poor performances in one domain cannot be compensated by higher scores in other areas, as all children’s rights are deemed to be equally important. Countries are scored using UN data and evidence collected from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. They are assessed across five areas including health, education, and enabling an environment that promotes child rights.
The Index found that economically prosperous countries are not necessarily outperforming the rest. Poorer countries such as Thailand and Tunisia featured in the top 10, while more developed countries came far lower, with the UK and New Zealand among the bottom-ten global performers.
In recent months, children’s rights are seriously affected by the coronavirus outbreak around the globe. With the economic consequences of the corona crisis, there are no expectations that this will change anytime soon. The suspension of vaccination programmes, school closures and a surge in domestic violence during coronavirus lockdowns are likely to derail a decade’s worth of progress for children, according to new global research.
The Kidsrights Foundation published its 2020 annual rankings of children’s rights in 182 countries with Iceland scoring top for the second year running followed by Switzerland, Finland and Sweden. Again the UK fared poorly, ranking in 169th place behind countries including Sudan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The country’s poor treatment of Roma and Gypsy children was criticised while the UK’s anti-terrorism strategy, Prevent, was found to have a stigmatising effect on Muslim children.
British children’s views were not systematically heard in developing policy that affects them, the report found. It also highlighted concerns around lack of legal aid while many children feel they are not listened to by social workers, paid carers, judges and other professionals working in family legal proceedings.
The advocacy group’s chairman, Marc Dullaert, told the Guardian the pandemic would have a dire impact: “Our index shows that even before Covid-19, countries were not allocating sufficient budgets around the protection of child rights. Now we expect the economic consequences of the crisis to turn the clock back 10 years on the progress made around the wellbeing of children, unless governments take swift action.” “It is really sad to see that recent welfare reforms have pushed more children into poverty in a rich country like the UK. We are also concerned about children in detention who, because of the indirect impact of Covid-19, are effectively in solitary confinement and have nearly no contact with family or the outside world.” Said Dullaert.